Holiday Grief: 5 Steps for Coping with the Sudden Loss of a Pet

No one is prepared for dealing with the sudden loss of a pet. However, the holiday and New Year season can be the toughest time to experience that loss. When faced with this challenge, there are some steps you can take to deal with holiday grief effectively. Read on to learn how to move through the stages of pet loss to come out the other side.

1. Find someone to talk to

Pets are an integral part of our families — One of the best ways to deal with pet grief is to share your feelings. Find someone you trust and confide in them about how the loss makes you feel. You might be surprised at how comforting it is to simply talk about your experience. The holiday season might not feel like a time when people unload their grief on others. Many people pretend to be happy just to fit in. However, it may be important for you to discuss the sudden loss of a pet with someone who will listen.

2. Be there for someone else

You can learn a lot about holiday grief and how it affects you past the holiday season by talking to someone else in a similar situation. If feelings of pet grief and loss are fresher to them, you can provide advice and comfort to help them move on. You might be surprised at how it can help you as well. As you provide comfort to them, you will experience a measure of comfort for yourself. Grieving with people can help both you and them.

Unfortunately, the sudden loss of a pet may impact other animals in your household too. There may be times that you need to grieve with your pet too. You may have to help your pup through dog abortion or your cat through a miscarriage, and there are a number of medical reasons why this can happen. You can help your dog get through this grieving period by being there for her. As their best friend, you provide comfort and companionship to ensure she eats her food and drinks plenty of water.

Grieving pets can sometimes forget to take care of themselves, so in these times, you will need to step in and be strong — even if you are experiencing holiday grief yourself.

3. Give yourself some space

What many people need when experiencing pet grief is space for themselves and time. Yet, that can be tough to get during the holiday season when everyone is rushing around and staying very busy. You’ll also have lots of friends and family to deal with at this time of year, in most cases, and you need to plan some time alone after the sudden loss of a pet.

This may be a few minutes each day or a few days that you have decided will be personal time. You can spend this time with friends too, but detach from the breakneck pace and the stress of the holidays. 

4. Write about your holiday grief experiences

One strategy that lots of people have found helpful in dealing with holiday grief is to write about it every day. This provides them an outlet for their feelings and a way to express how they feel. Writing allows a person to put words to sensations that are hard to understand. Many people say that they better understand pet grief and why they feel the way they feel just by keeping a journal. The more often you write about the sudden loss of a pet and your feelings, the more helpful this tool will be in helping you pass through the stages of grief.

Woman writing in journal to deal with cope of the loss of a pet.

5. Give rest to your feelings and feelings of pet grief

One method that has helped many people cope with holiday grief is to bury their pet and provide a memorial that they find fitting. This can create a sense of finality and closure for the pet owner and help them to move on. Rather than feel empty about their pet, they can understand more concretely that their pet is gone. Hopefully, after processing your experience with pet grief, you can one day move on from the sudden loss of a pet with another furry friend.

Melissa Kauffman, Catster & Dogster magazine editor

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